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Entry 51 // Exit Plan: Time to get serious.

Update by: Luke | April 24th 2011

Wow, it's been 13 days since anyone has dug up enough ambition to attempt to write an explaination for how we have been spending our time. A lot can happen in 13 days and a lot did happen. It's going to be hard to go back in time to remember the details, but i'm going to give it a go.

Let's start from where we left off last, let's see. That was cruising back into Addis Ababa to reorganize our exit plan. Djibouti was a no-go, and as of now Sudan is our only land based option, but Sudan didn't have a time frame for us. They said anywhere from 2 weeks to 4 months. They don't know and couldn't say. We are back at the Taitu hotel for the night, enjoying the evening with our friends we left only 6 days earlier. It's a great evening of pizza, drinks and laughter. A well needed happy time for our constant dealings of "nos" and "sorrys."

Seid meets us in the morning with a plan. He is part of the reason we came back to Addis. He made some bold statements on the phone to get us to come back, claiming guarenteed Saudi AND Yemen Visas. I'm skeptical, but he sounds confident. Together Ben, Seid, Nick and I all head off for the Saudi Embassy. Now if you are keeping track, you remember that Nick and I have already been here and got a strick "No" for a visa. They said, they would only grant us one from Yemen or Sudan. Let's see what strings Seid can pull for us.

The line is long and stretches outside the gaurded gate. A little chat with the gaurd and Seid has us cutting inside past the line. The next line inside you can not cut. We are given a number to wait just like at the Secretary of State office. An hour later we are tired of standing. We sit against the wall and continue to wait. I'm glad I don't have to pee or anything because we are going to be here for awhile. Finally our number is called. Seid does all the talking. He tells a story how we need a visa today because we are going to take a ferry from Djibouti to Saudi in a few days. They don't care, their office has rules. They will not bend them even for Seid. They tell him the exact same information we have been getting. They will only give us a visa from Yemen or Sudan. We leave. Seids neighbor works at the embassy, but she wasn't in today. It's a shame we couldn't deal with her, but it's not even up to her. It's up to the consolate. We would have been turned down anyway. Ok, that door is closed again. Next plan.
Seid is Yemen, but he works here in Ethiopia for an oil drilling company. He has family still in Yemen so he collects our passports, makes copies of them and sends the copies off to his family so they can make invite letters for us for Yemen Visas. This mailing process will take a few days, so that gives Nick and I time to run to the Djibouti embassy and get another Djibouti visa since our first one was only a single entry visa, and expired as soon as we were stamped back into Ethiopia. We know this drill well, and take no time getting the US embassy letter, passport photos, application and money rounded up. At this point we are running out of passport photos so we had to go to the mall to get some more made up. We have our Djibouti Visas before the weekend, but the Yemen invite letter isn't here yet. I personally have low hopes on Yemen anyway. Ben Nick and I all have a conversation. We decide it's time to get real serious. We are just killing our time and our hopes here. Let's look into air freight. Seid is still working the Yemen angle. He takes nick to the place where the Yemen Counclor chews Chat (a green leafy drug) in the afternoons to pled our case. The Counclor is not even there this afternoon. We are having no luck. Meanwhile a new option comes into play. Seid has some connection on a freight ship that leaves from Somalia and goes to Jordan. These ideas are getting too crazy. It would be great if one of them worked, but for every day that goes by with no progress, there is always another excuse. We need progress, but we are getting nowhere. days and days are being burned up unproductivly. Ben and Nick decide to go to the airport themselves and find out the real facts on air freight.

Oh, I almost forgot we (or I) have another problem to worry about. My bike runs like crap. I have a fuel injection code (9-long) to get off my bike. This code puts the bike in an emergency running mode where it has no power and back fires constantly. I need to fix my bike before we leave but how? I call my buddy John at Rally Raid once again for advice. He gives me the usual, try cleaning all the electrical connectors and resetting the bikes brains. I do all this and still nothing. Ok, he says. I'm sending you my complete throttle body from my spare bike. Give me an address. Of course I listen to the man, and get the address pronto. Good! This should fix my bike. Now I just have to wait for the package. According to the tracking number it will be here on wednesday.

Monday comes around, we have decided on air freight to Istanbul. We are quoted at about $1,700 per bike and $500 per person plane ticket. Sucks, but lets do it. Nick and I play the game get lukes bike to the shipping place. It's a 5 mile ride of coasting and restarting the engine through traffic and at one point through a 16 lane road. We get there and that's all that matters. Seid and Ben are waiting for us and we do some paperwork. I don't know how it works because we once again don't have Carnets. The paperwork guys are dumbfounded and ask us for everything we have. We show them miscellaneous papers from along the way, Insurance from Tanzania, road tax from Zambia, eventually giving them a copy of our title. Seid does the talking and we sign stuff then leave. The processes are so slow here. We go outside and get tired of waiting. Nick walks around and finds out where we can start to disassemble our bikes. We push our bikes fully loaded with luggage inside a warehouse then walk back out going through a metal detector. This makes on sense to me as my luggage could have bombs and guns and all that stuff, but you can't have a jackknife in your pocket. strange.

Nick and Ben start the process of draining fuel from their bikes. Nick swallows some gas and has a headache for the rest of the day. He tries to puke outside, but flicking the little dangler with his finger is not sucessful.

My tank is very easy to drain. I can do it with no hands even.Next Seid comes rolling in telling me to get on his bike. He got a call from UPS saying my package came in. This is a full two day early. I hop on his bike and we dip and dodge through traffic arriving at UPS right before they close for the day. YESSS!!! This means I can fly out on tuesday with Ben and Nick and not have to wait till wednesday for my part to come in. (The tracking info had my package ariving on wednesday.)No Vat, No Tax, Just sign and take it away. Easy as pie.

Back at the shipping yard, we weigh the bikes and load them on an alluminum plane pallet. Mine weights 165 kg, Nicks is 223 kg, Bens is not weighted, they used his paperwork which says 211. Now according to the quote, the weight doesn't matter much, it's the cubic volumn that we are being charged for. I think outside the box and start stripping my bike down. An hour or so into it, I have my windscreen, front tanks, and handlebars off the bike, thinking of doing more. Maybe the rear racks? I got it really thin. By now it's late and the workers are leaving. We finish up but now there is no one to measure the bikes. We must come back in the morning to get solid measurements and pay for our bikes.

Ben, Nick, and Security. It's hard to get a decent picture in here because they don't allow cameras. We take a taxi to Seids place for the night.

In the morning Nick and I take a taxi back to the airport with loads of cash to measure our bikes and pay for the shipment. Of course the taxi breaks down on the way there. No big deal, he's just out of gas, and he has spare gas with him. At the airport we find out that they shipping company took the weight of the bikes not the cubic volume because the weight was greater. That's awesome, I didn't have to strip my bike down to nothing like I was told. Being the positive person I am, I am sure I will not look any bolts or important pieces during transit and fully assemble the bike with no problems in Turkey. This does make me a little frustrated, what does not make me frustrated is the new price we got. Turns out it's costing us $3,000 total to ship the bikes instead of the quoted $5,000. My share is $750 because of my weight. We pull out our money and start counting!
Maybe we count too slow or maybe we were having too much fun, so they bought this out so we could have more fun, and count better. I've never used one before, but it's easy. You just stuff money in it and smile.With three grand is cash gone, and lots left in our pockets we take the receipts and paperwork and head off to find Ben to tell him the good news. We join Ben at a nice restaurant and enjoy a football game while we eat and buy plane tickets to Turkey for ourselves. They are $400 a pop leaving Addis at 4:00 a.m.

Now I have too much local currency to my name. We leave Ethiopia in 12 hours. I need to get rid of this stuff and banks will be closing soon. I leave the restaurant on a mission. I have about 11,000 Bur which is $600 and some USD. I grab a taxi and he takes me to the bank. Inside the bank, I talk to the manager and learn that I can not exchange money without proof of where I got the money from. I tell him ATM's of course, but he needs to see the ATM receipts. Of course the ATM's are always out of paper, and never print a receipt, so I am screwed. He gives in and lets me exchange 1,700 Bur. Enought for a single hundred dollar bill. Ok, new spot. I ask my taxi driver where I can change money on the black market. He drives me around. The first place is a no go. They don't have enough US cash. The second place will work. The guy runs off and finds enough money. He gives me a fair rate too. 17.2 vs 17.1 that the offical bank gave. I check for water marks and have one bill returned. All is good. I snap a photo, (disguised as just playing with my iPhone) and hop back in the taxi.Back at Seids everything is taken care of. Nick, Ben and I are all packed ready to leave for the monrning. All our friends come over one last time and we walk down to a pub to watch a Manchester United Football game. I'm not going to say who loses because Ben is still sore about it, but our stay in Addis is over. We get on a plane in a few hours. I know I can't wait to get off this continent.




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